Pioneers of art: 10 new books on artistic beginnings

For this selection of new art books we decided to take a look at beginnings, from prehistoric evidence of creativity and expression, to the early renaissance, right through to the more recent emergence of artistic collaboration or co-art. Whether it’s fashion illustration, the story of heritage paints and pigments, or learning to draw manga, you might find yourself beginning a new creative journey.

Syndetics book coverThe first artists : in search of the world’s oldest art / Michel Lorblanchet and Paul Bahn
“Where is the world’s very first art located? When, and why, did people begin experimenting with different materials, forms, and colors? Prehistorians have long been asking these questions, but only recently have they been able to piece together the first chapter in the story of art. This book is the first to assess the discovery, history, and significance of these varied forms of art.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCo-art : artists on creative collaboration / Ellen Mara De Wachter.
“Art history is traditionally presented as the individual’s struggle for self-expression, yet over the past fifty years, the number of artists working collaboratively has grown exponentially. Co-Art: Artists on Creative Collaboration, explores this phenomenon through conversations with twenty-five leading art-world pairs and groups, who offer insight that is relevant beyond the art world, making this book vital for all who seek to work creatively and effectively with others.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverArtist’s drawing techniques / senior editor, Georgina Palffy.
“Try your hand at drawing and bring out your inner artist as you discover your own unique style. Create your own masterpieces with projects for both beginners and experienced artists. A practical guide to learning how to draw with pencils, charcoal, pens, and pastels, Artist’s Drawing Techniques helps you develop skills in every medium, perfect for the beginner picking up a new hobby or the experienced artist who wants to expand your horizons.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover100 years of fashion illustration / Cally Blackman.
“A visual feast of 400 dazzling images, a comprehensive survey of a genre over the last century and offering an overview of the development of fashion, as seen through the eyes of the greatest illustrators of the day. Early in the century, fashion illustration reflected new, liberating currents in art and culture, while the postwar period saw inspiration from the great Parisian couturiers. After the dominance of the celebrity fashion photographer in the 60s, a new generation of illustrators emerged, embracing the medium of the computer, while many returned to more traditional techniques.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe collector of lives : Giorgio Vasari and the invention of art / Ingrid Rowland and Noah Charney.
“Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574), an advisor to kings and pontiffs and a confidant to Titian, Donatello, and more, Vasari enjoyed an exhilarating career amid the thrilling culture of Italy. A narrative of intrigue, scandal, and colorful artistic rivalry, this vivid biography shows the great works of western art taking shape under Vasari’s keen eye–and reveals how one Renaissance scholar completely redefined how we look at art.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHokusai : beyond the great wave / edited by Timothy Clark.
“Publications have hitherto presented Hokusai’s long and illustrious career as a chronological sequence. This book takes a fresh approach based on innovative scholarship: thematic groupings of works are related to the major spiritual and artistic quests of Hokusai’s life. This collection of Hokusai’s works draws on the finest to be found in Japan and around the world, making this the most important publication for years on Hokusai, and a uniquely valuable overview of the artist’s late career.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHow to draw manga in simple steps / Yishan Li.
“Learn how to draw boys, girls and creatures (ordinary and extraordinary) in the manga style, using this fun and simple step-by-step book. Starting with basic shapes, professional comic artist Yishan Li shows how easy it is to turn circles, rectangles, squares and ovals into teens, kids, witches, wizards, monsters, animals and much more. If you have always wanted to draw manga, but weren’t sure how to begin, this book will help kick-start your comic-drawing journey. Even experienced artists will be inspired by Yishan’s impressive mix of figures and foes.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe anatomy of colour : the story of heritage paints and pigments / Patrick Baty.
The Anatomy of Colour is the definitive book on the use of colour and paint in interior decoration over a 300-year period. Drawing on his huge specialist archive, historian and paint expert Patrick Baty traces the evolution of pigments and paint colours together with colour systems and standards, and examines their impact on the colour palettes used in interiors from 1650 to 1960.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPipilotti Rist : Pixel Forest / edited by Massimiliano Gioni and Margot Norton.
“A pioneer of experimental video art, Pipilotti Rist is celebrated for her immersive, seductive works that bridge the spaces between fine art and entertainment. Through saturated colours, sensuous imagery, and playful eroticism, Rist’s art, which ranges from kaleidoscopic video environments to a chandelier of tie-dyed underwear, absorbs viewers in a hyperfeminine aesthetic at odds with deeper themes of pain and innocence.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTraces of Vermeer / Jane Jelley.
“Johannes Vermeer’s luminous paintings are loved and admired around the world, yet we do not understand how they were made. We see sunlit spaces; the glimmer of satin, silver, and linen; we see the softness of a hand on a lute string or letter. We might hope for some answers from the experts, but they are confounded too. Jane Jelley has taken a new path in this detective story. A painter herself, she has worked with the materials of his time and shows us how painters made their pictures layer by layer, exploring how Vermeer could have used a lens in the creation of his masterpieces. The clues were there all along. After all this time, now we can unlock the studio door, and catch a glimpse of Vermeer inside, painting light.” (Syndetics summary)

Art Recent Picks for December 2013

Art now, and then: several new and fascinating surveys of the art world for the festive season:-

Syndetics book coverArt now. Vol. 4 / [edited by Hans Werner Holzwarth].
“Think of this tome as a global go-round of the world’s most influential galleries: if it’s hot in the art world today, it’s in this book. Emerging artists are featured alongside established greats like Chuck Close, David Hockney, or Brice Marden. A to Z entries on more than 100 artists include images of important recent work, an introductory text, and a short exhibition history with bibliographical information. The illustrated appendix collects contact details for the galleries representing the artists as well as auction results of the last few years” (adapted from Amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverA map of the world : according to illustrators & storytellers / edited by Antonis Antoniou, Robert Klanten, Sven Ehmann, and Hendrik Hellige.
“Maps help us understand the world. This book features the most original and sought-after map illustrators whose work is in line with the zeitgeist. Drawing a map means understanding our world a bit better. For centuries, we have used the tools of cartography to represent both our immediate surroundings and the world at large–and to convey them to others… A new generation of designers, illustrators, and mapmakers are currently discovering their passion for various forms of illustrative cartography. A Map of the World is a compelling collection of their work.” (adapted from Amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverArt since 1980 : charting the contemporary / Peter R. Kalb.
“Charts the story of art in contemporary global culture while holding up a mirror to our society. With over 300 pictures of painting, photography, sculpture, installation, and performance and video art, we are led on an illuminating journey via the individuals and communities who have shaped art internationally” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverMasterpieces of Chinese painting, 700-1900 / edited by Zhang Hongzing ; with essays by Ling Lizhong … [et al.].
“Painting has always been regarded by the Chinese as a supreme art, equal to those of poetry and philosophy. But dating back over 2,500 years, many Chinese paintings were made to be viewed just for a few hours or weeks. As a result, the masterpieces of the form have been seen very rarely, and then only by a few. This spectacular book accompanies a major V&A [Victoria & Albert Museum, UK] exhibition that brings together some of the world’s greatest paintings on silk and paper—many of which will be displayed only for a short time. All the paintings are reproduced in full, together with enlarged details.” (adapted from Amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverArt cities of the future / 21st century avant-gardes / authors, Antawan I. Byrd, Suygu Demir, Hyun Jung [and nine others].
“The explosion of global biennials and art fairs has been cited by some as the instrumentalisation of the art world by the financial world. Others see it as a sign of the destabilization of Western dominance and the emergence of new art centers. This book takes the latter position, arguing for 12 new international sites-Beirut, Bogota, Cluj, Delhi, Istanbul, Johannesburg, Lagos, San Juan, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Singapore, and Vancouver. Another significant effect of this opening of art worlds is the rise to prominence of the curator as a key figure who both elucidates and organizes this new topography. This work brings together curators from the regions mentioned above, each of whom has a highly specialized background. Each title city is introduced with a brief description of the locale’s political and contemporary art history written by the curator. Eight artists (and collectives) represent the avant-garde of their cities, and all share a commitment to experimental art and to their local milieu…” (abridged from Syndetics summary)

Art recent picks May 2013

From the street to surrealism: an eclectic selection of amazing new art books for May 2013.

Syndetics book coverNew street art / Claude Crommelin (ClaudeLondon).
“Street art is part of every cityscape. By street art, we mean the crazy and wonderful stencils, paste-ups, paintings and little sculptures that decorate our urban landscape, catching our eyes and surprising us with their beauty, humour or pithy comment on society. It is, however, ephemeral and the work can disappear very quickly or be damaged by the elements or vandalism. Through his website, ClaudeLondon has documented thousands of works by artists active in the city.” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverDrawing Surrealism / Leslie Jones ; with contributions by Isabelle Dervaux, Susan Laxton.
“An exhibition catalogue for a show at the Los Angeles Country Museum of Art and the Morgan Library and Museum, this volume features a text by LACMA curator Jones and two accompanying essays by Dervaux and Laxton. The publisher describes it as the “first large-scale loan exhibition to focus on drawing as a prevailing form of expression for surrealist artists.” …” (CHOICE) (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe books that shaped art history : from Gombrich and Greenberg to Alpers and Krauss / edited by Richard Shone and John-Paul Stonard.
“Written by some of today’s leading art historians and curators, this new collection provides an invaluable road map of the field by comparing and reexamining canonical works of art history. From Émile Mâle’s magisterial study of thirteenth-century French art, first published in 1898, to Hans Belting’s provocative Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image before the Era of Art, the book provides a concise and insightful overview of the history of art, told through its most enduring literature …” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverChagall : modern master / Simonetta Fraquelli ; with contributions by Angela Lampe … [et al.].
“Though his paintings of Russian village life, floating figures, flying cows, and roosters are instantly familiar, Marc Chagall (1887–1985) remains one of the least understood artists of his generation. Bringing together more than 60 paintings and a selection of works on paper, this lavishly illustrated book focuses on the artist’s time in Paris before World War I, his visit to Berlin and his exhibition there in 1914, and the years he spent in his native Russia around the time of the Revolution in 1917, all experiences that reinforced his highly personal visual language.” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverTreasuring the gaze : intimate vision in late eighteenth-century eye miniatures / Hanneke Grootenboer.
“The end of the eighteenth century saw the start of a new craze in Europe: tiny portraits of single eyes that were exchanged by lovers or family members. Worn as brooches or pendants, these minuscule eyes served the same emotional need as more conventional mementoes, such as lockets containing a coil of a loved one’s hair. The fashion lasted only a few decades, and by the early 1800s eye miniatures had faded into oblivion. Unearthing these portraits in Treasuring the Gaze, Hanneke Grootenboer proposes that the rage for eye miniatures—and their abrupt disappearance—reveals a knot in the unfolding of the history of vision…” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverWhat was contemporary art? / Richard Meyer.
“Contemporary art in the early twenty-first century is often discussed as though it were a radically new phenomenon unmoored from history. Yet all works of art were once contemporary to the artist and culture that produced them. In What Was Contemporary Art? Richard Meyer reclaims the contemporary from historical amnesia, exploring episodes in the study, exhibition, and reception of early twentieth-century art and visual culture…” (adapted from amazon.com description)